October 16th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

National Coming Out Day took place this past weekend. The topic came up on a Facebook Page I follow of whether all homosexuals should come out. The idea was an altruistic one that everyone gay or straight should be able to say who they are and let the world know! This is an admirable idea but it’s simply more complicated than that.

You see, the problem is that I never had to out myself as straight.

Not once.

So why should someone have to out themselves as gay?

We have friends who some people are mad at because they never officially said, “Yes! Friends and family, we are a gay couple.”

But you know what, why should they have to? If it walks like a duck, quacks likes a duck, then it’s a duck.

If people assume I am straight because of how I behave, I think it is fair for people to assume people are gay because of the way they behave and if we get corrected in either way then that’s fine. But to demand someone out themselves so that there is certainty around the issue is a terrible thing. It places an unnecessary burden on a member of an already marginalized group.

My son wears dresses. I don’t out my son as a boy unless I am directly asked. I don’t walk up to people and say, “He’s a boy in case you were wondering.” I don’t hide it either.

But people feel entitled to ask because they want to make themselves feel more certain. They can’t handle the stress of not knowing what pronoun they should use, what topics they should discuss, what compliments they should give, and so forth.

Guess what? The same exact ones whether you think he is a boy or a girl.

Mutual friends say, “Our friends will feel better if they can talk openly about it.” They ask, “Why don’t these friends trust us enough to tell us?”

Guess what? They already did tell you with how they are behaving.

National Coming Out Day is important because it recognizes the difficulty people who want to come out face. But if you have a friend who is gay, looks gay, acts guy, and has someone who serves the function of a significant other who is the same gender, then your friend has already come out. You just aren’t paying attention.

October 8th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

I’m a racism denier. I admit it. My first go-to rationale for why people behave like jerks is never going to be racism. I am an optimist after all. Maybe they just had a bad day, maybe something you said pushed a button, maybe it’s just their personality to be like that, maybe, maybe, maybe. I’ll try every possible option before I consider racism (or any other ism) as the reason for someone being a jerk.

My advice for folks who experience someone being a jerk is typically the same regardless of how they act. I was raised Catholic after all. I was taught to turn the other cheek and that’s what I pass on as seemingly sound advice. Kill them with kindness and they will learn that you are the better person, that it pays to be kind, and that they should feel bad for what they’ve done.

That doesn’t always work. I’m a realist after all. This type of response could even fuel the fire of that person being a jerk by acquiescing to the dominance jerk is exerting, allowing the jerk to take advantage of this dominance, and putting the burden of that person being a jerk onto the victim.

Rather than facilitating that cycle, I usually don’ take my own advice and instead use an alternate theoretically-based strategy. I am a theorist after all. There is plenty of theory to support that one particular alternate strategy could be more successful. Social Identity Theory in particular suggests that

1) self worth is a basic psychological need.
2) we gain self worth from the identities we take on.
3) our identities are tied to the identities of others.
4) we feel better about our identities when they match the identities of those around us.
5) a shared group identity is known as our ingroup.
6) for our self worth to increase we must highly value our ingroup identities.
7) polarizing ingroups (those group identities we relate to) in positive ways and outgroups (those group identities we don’t relate to) in negative ways allows us increase our self worth even more.

So essentially, we make ourselves feel better by making others feel bad. Hence, the jerk acts like a jerk to outgroup members but is sweet to ingroup members. If you can switch the jerk’s perception of you as an outgroup member to an ingroup member, then the jerk will have a vested interest in seeing you positively. This alternate strategy has helped both my myself and my daughter when we have been confronted by bullies.

When I was 13, I was picked on in high school by one girl in particular. One day she tried to get my attention by saying “Hey, Anasta, Anastac, Anastaia or whatever the hell your name is!” I responded saying, “Why are you picking on me when you don’t even know anything about me … not even my name?” It forced her not to see me as an enemy worthy of her contempt. It forced her to see us as both strangers to each other not knowing anything about the other. Certainly not knowing enough to bully. By redefining our group memberships to be in the ingroups of strangers she was able to see me as similar to herself, empathize with me, and gain self worth by not picking on me as she would an outgroup member. She never picked on me again.

When my daughter was 5, she was picked on in kindergarten by one boy in particular. One day the boy went so far as to rip up one of her newly made drawings. She looked at him in the eye and asked innocently, “Why are you always so mean to me?” It forced him not to see her as a weakling worthy of his disdain. It forced him to see her as a person that didn’t like people being mean to her. I’m sure he saw himself the same way. By redefining their group membership to be ingroup members of people who don’t like it when people are mean he was able to relate to her and take her question at face value. His answer was simply a shrug of his shoulders. Her response took the point home. “So, if you don’t know why you are doing it then can you stop?” Now seeing her as an ingroup member he was able to gain self worth by siding with her. “Ok.” He said and then walked away. They’d say hello to each other in the hallways for the rest of the school year.

When someone is a jerk, I always try to diffuse the situation not by turning the other cheek but by giving them a reason to view me differently ala social identity theory. I am a proactive person after all. Redefining group membership so that we are aligned with those who are jerks to us as ingroup members instead of outgroup members can be a powerful tool to diffuse someone who is a jerk. To me, it’s an early and simple step to respond to someone who is a jerk. It’s my go-to strategy before I assume racism, sexism, or any other kind of ism.

So, I am a racism denier. I can never know with 100% accuracy what are any single person’s intentions. I am not a mind reader after all. Rather than starting with racism as a rational for someone being a jerk, I try to exhaust all other possibilities first.

So I’ve been watching in the news the cases of presumed racism by the police against black males in particular. I watched one clip on CNN yesterday that has haunted me since I watched it.

Forget about race for a minute.

You are driving in your car and get pulled over for not having your seat belt on. How do you perceive that in your mind? Cop just doing their job? Strange thing to get pulled over for? Grateful for the officer’s due diligence? Pain in the bu** because you have places to go and people to see? Regardless of how you perceive it you pull over, wait for the officer to approach the car, patiently and slowly follow the officer’s instructions for driver’s license and registration.

The police office turns his or her direction to the passenger. How do you perceive this? Legitimate? Unusual? Bothersome? Laudible? Regardless, you try to respond to the police officer’s questions as does your passenger.

Your passenger, not you, is asked to come out of the car? Your kids are in the back seat. You haven’t been given a reason for why your passenger needs to come out of the car. Your questions aren’t being answered by the police officer. How do you perceive this? What would you encourage or discourage your passenger from doing?

You try to explain your concerns to the police officer. Maybe you mention that sometimes people dress up as police officers so how do you know he is legitimate. Maybe you explain that you don’t understand why the situation has become elevated to from a seat belt issue where you’ve complied with everything the officer has asked to a situation where the passenger is being asked to step out of the car? Maybe you explain that you have children in the car and you are worried about them having a clear understanding of the law enforcement system and want it to be a learning moment for them to understand their rights and responsibilities in these types of situations? Maybe you mention that there has been a considerable amount of violence against people who look like your passenger and without any rationale for why he needs to step out of the car you are reluctant to ask him to do so? Maybe? Maybe? Maybe?

Whatever you say almost doesn’t matter as long as you are trying to come up with strategies to explain your concerns about having your passenger getting out of the car. You are talking, you are answering questions, you are laying all your cards on the table for why you don’t think this is a safe thing to do. You’ve basically tried turning the other cheek and tried applying social identity theory by engaging in a discussion of your concerns as equals (concerned citizen and dutiful police office) about what you perceive as a dangerous situation. You’ve tried everything you could.

I know some people who saw the clip- and CNN newscasters mentioned this as well- may say, “Why didn’t he just get out of the car?” But if you think about it like I laid it out earlier it’s not that simple. If you sincerely believe that the safety and well being of your family is being threatened doing the thing that would put you in the most dangerous situation that you are in fear of simply isn’t an option.

Sure he could have gotten out of the car. He had the physical ability to do so.

Red flags were going up the entire time during the pullover to indicate there was something out of the ordinary going on. Indeed, the police officer ended up shattering the window and using a taser on the man. This suggests the driver’s instincts were not entirely off-base here.

Short of coming out of the car, they were doing everything else requested. They didn’t flee the scene. They didn’t act in aggressive ways in the car. They tried to engage in a discussion wherein they explained their concerns. They tried everything.

When all else fails, you’ve tried everything, and you’ve acted in ways that were reasonable to act using legitimate strategies to accomplish mutual goals to the extent possible, and you are still treated differently, then even I would say, yes, it’s racism.

August 6th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

In a recent blog post by Richard B. Cohen on July 3, 2014, the author raises the question of whether there is a magic number of racial slurs that determines whether there is a hostile workplace. For a discussion of this topic, read the full post titled, Will We Finally Learn How Many Racial Slurs Constitute A Hostile Work Environment? A Court May Give Us A Number.

July 30th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Todays guest blog is reposted from Natasha Shapiro’s blog Art Therapy and Related Topics. Natasha is an art therapist and occasionally provides The Communicated Stereotype with insights into related topics. This July on TCS she posted about stereotypes and women’s clothing and of men’s clothing. Today’s post deals with stereotypes of The “Boyfriend” Style.

Posted on July 16, 2014

So, here we go venturing into fashion meets psychology/language/sociology. I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this. That’s what I love about blogging. You can reference people who know more about it, and just start up a conversation without having to be an expert!

It is now ubiquitous; just look at Old Navy and Gap and Victoria’s Secret websites and catalogues. There are “boyfriend” jeans which are a certain shape and style, just like “skinny” jeans, which were mentioned in my last post on this topic, as well as “bell bottoms”, “high waisted” jeans and various other kinds. I first saw this term in a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, a few years ago, in reference to a “boyfriend” sweater. I assumed it meant a sweater that is supposed to look like the wearer of it is wearing her presumptive boyfriend’s sweater. A lot of assumptions here, that a slouchy sort of too big sweater is akin to a man’s sweater for a woman, who must have a boyfriend or remember putting on her larger boyfriend’s clothing. Of course many women don’t have boyfriends, some have girlfriends, some have neither, some have non gendered lovers, etc. And of course many women who call their partner or dating casually person their “boyfriend” are the same size or larger than this “boyfriend.” Somehow seeing this term on clothing just never gets old in terms of how insulting it feels. And of course, I may be wrong about the origins of this term. I was way off with the “baby doll” reference!
So when did this emerge as a classification of not just sweaters, but jeans and I guess other things like shirts and jackets? The “Wise Geek” blog tries to describe this basically as a tradition of women wearing menswear, either raided from a “boyfriend”, “brother” or even dad’s closet:

So this seemed to come up in the 80’s. I’m not sure what leggings have to do with it except I guess the big oversized boyfriend sweater or top was popularly paired with tight “leggings.” Now there are even “jeggings,” a term I am quite fond of just because of its sound, and it does not seem to be connected to anything besides leggings which are just described using the word leg, so not bad, considering they could have been called “skinny tights” or something else…

Anyway back to the “boyfriend” cut. Sorry I had to resort to Wikipedia for the more detailed description, as well as celebrity references and possible beginning of the popularity of the garment. They cite Katie Holmes wearing Tom Cruise’s clothing, which is really ironic, considering that most people did not believe Katie and Tom were really boyfriend and girlfriend anyway. I will refrain from speculations about their relationship.

Wikipedia: “In fashion design, primarily in ready-to-wear lines, boyfriend is any style of women’s clothing that was modified from a corresponding men’s garment. Examples include boyfriend jackets, boyfriend jeans, and boyfriend blazers, which are often more unisex or looser in appearance and fit than most women’s jackets or trousers, though still designed for the female form.

The origin of boyfriend fashion is literally borrowing and wearing a boyfriend’s clothes—his distressed jeans, his band tees, his dress shirts, his blazers, his cardigan. The trend expanded in 2009 when actress Katie Holmes was spotted in public wearing Tom Cruise’s slouchy jeans after a Broadway rehearsal; other celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Bilson, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others began to follow the trend. From there, many brands such as Gap, Forever 21, and H&M began to create boyfriend fashion products or men’s-inspired fashion.”

Here are some live examples of boyfriend jeans from Forever 21.

Here is an example of a “boyfriend sweater” from Victoria’s Secret.

It seems like it must be hard to size these as they are meant to be “oversized” and in fact, some stores prefer the term “oversized,” which is at least descriptive and neutral, like “baggy.” I remember when “baggy” jeans were a big deal, must have been in the 80’s as nobody seems to be into them anymore!

July 23rd, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized


The stereotype guru has read a lot of blog posts, articles, and books on stereotypes. I have never come across anything that explains why dressing up as another cultural group is offensive better than this open letter expresses. This article makes clear that when we are educated, the world is a better place.


Read the following article to better understand why an Indian headress is not a suitable Halloween costume: An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses


July 16th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Todays guest blog is reposted from Natasha Shapiro’s blog Art Therapy and Related Topics. Natasha is an art therapist and occasionally provides The Communicated Stereotype with insights into related topics. Last Wednesday on TCS she posted about stereotypes and women’s clothing. Today’s post deals with stereotypes of men’s clothing.

Fashion’s Strange Naming of Clothing and accessories: The “Wife Beater”

Posted on June 17, 2014

Note about this series: I will continue to hazard guesses as to how each term came about before looking it up, so as to see if my associations led me astray or not! As I continue writing about this, I am realizing these terms have very old origins. Watch what happens with the next term!

The “wife beater” is now, I believe, outmoded and not used to describe men’s white undershirts and by association, women’s white undershirt-like tank tops. This term for most people can bring up an instant image of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowakski in the film, “Streetcar Named Desire”. For sure that must be where this term for such a garment originated:

Woops, wrong again! Here first is the definition: from http://www.pauldavidson.net/2005/05/13/words-for-your-enjoyment-wife-beaters/

“There are three definitions for a “wife beater.” The first, one who harms their spouse with physical force. The second, one who psychologically intimidates or makes scared a person who, in the event of their death, receives half of the current estate. And third — a white, thin t-shirt with no arms, resembling a tank top, which often is easily stained with reheated food items.”

Now see if you know this interesting fact about medieval origins:
“the history of the “wife beater” goes back to the Middle Ages, where knights who lost their armor in battles often had nothing but the chain-mail undergarment to protect them. Now, those chain mail undershirts, if you will, were damn strong — even a sword couldn’t get through. Often, when a knight lost their armor and continued to fight successfully, they were referred to as a waif beater (waif, referring to an abandoned or lost individual). Due to the fact that knights who had been abandoned and continued to fight with only the “shirt off their back” (albeit chain mail), they were given this noble title — an abandoned fighter, beating their way through battle.”

The next part of history was also a long time before Stanley Kowalski:

During 1700′s Europe, of course, the phrase “waif beater” no longer had much meaning due to the fact that there weren’t really knights running around fighting battles in chain-mail undershirts. As a result, the phrase was changed to the similarly sounding “wife beater” and used to refer to husbands who treated their significant others in a less than stellar way.

“The trend changed in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan — when police arrested a local man (James Hartford, Jr.) for beating his wife to death. Local news stations aired the arrest and elements of the case for months after — constantly showing a picture of Hartford, Jr. when he was arrested — wearing a dirty tank top with baked bean stains on it…and constantly referring to him as “the” wife beater.”

Now the next question is, is this truly now an outmoded politically incorrect term? And, did Street Car Named Desire have any connection to its use?

Here is an example of someone who didn’t dig deep enough and traced it to the 1970s and the movie Raging Bull andRocky are called to mind. In addition a real celebrity and real wife beater, Ike Turner is mentioned.

This answer dies mention something else, the term “guinea tea” which was also terribly offensive, and does give the reaction to the term and the shutting down of it by NAtional Orgsnization for Women

Here’s something else the term refers to a beer:
“it is a very common nickname for Stella Artois, due to it’s slightly higher than usual alcohol strength (5.2% ABV, compared to the usual 5% ABV). Strong Spanish lagers are often known similarly as “Senorita beater”. These aren’t related to the use for a vest/tank top/singlet/”

That was from Wikipedia. The correct term is now the A shirt, presumably to distinguish it from the t-shirt which was called so due to its T letter shape. It seems that clothes. An either be defined in neutral terms by the way they look, as in, T Shirt, Crop Top, A Line Dress, shorts, skirt, skort (the skirt mixed with shorts having shorts attached to it, jacket or in questionsl cultural symbolic terms.

As I tried to look up neutral seeming terms in an online catalogue I found myself questioning even the word skirt and blazer and saw “romper” which is on style now and conjured up dressing women like children to “romp” around in this garment. We will see if this one is also questionable, ie. could be offensive to a group or groups of weateres…

July 10th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Perhaps one of the biggest ironies that has ever happened in the history of the world is that the baby promoted as the “Perfect Aryan” baby was actually Jewish. The Nazis may never have known, but now that it is this photo also make the perfect unstereotype baby photo!


Coined by the Stereotype Guru nearly two years ago, the unstereotype “shocks you, makes you take a second look, makes you momentarily confused, and bothers you though you don’t know why.” The unstereotype is unnerving because it makes you question you core beliefs about stereotypes. I first used the term to describe a photo of WNBA Basketball Player Candace Parker. I don’t get a chance to capture unstereotypes very often, but when I do I like to share them with TCS readers.

July 9th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Today’s guest blog is reposted from Natasha Shapiro’s blog Art Therapy and Related Topics. Natasha is an art therapist and occasionally provides The Communicated Stereotype with insights into related topics. Today’s post deals with stereotypes of women’s clothing.

Why Are Women’s Clothing Descriptions Not Neutral? The Weirdness of Our Culture

I have not posted something I have written in a while, and I was thinking about this topic about a month ago and filed it in the back of my mind as something I wanted to write a post about. Maybe another type of series of blog posts, like my other cultures’ interesting rituals series, but I guess this would be: American Culture and its Strange Phenomenons, Some Pleasant, and Some Not So Pleasant. I would file this under Not So Pleasant. An example of pleasant would be “The Twilight Zone”- the TV Series and American’s beliefs about the Supernatural… I am biased, as I love the TV Series.

Fashion in our country is inherently gendered; in fact, what you wear is a very big indication of how you view gender, whether you have a narrow view or broad view of gender. Young women with long hair who wear men’s ties or suspenders with various types of outfits would be an example of a broader view of gender or simply an individual who enjoys using their sense of fashion style to make a statement about gender.

Anyway, we still have “catalogues” to order clothes from, though I don’t know how long they will last. They may last longer if there is not a new invention of digital easily acceptable info for toilet reading and other type uses. People still enjoy magazines even though they will probably go out of business, sadly. I of course like them for their art therapy collage uses. Anyway, whether you go to a store to buy your clothes, order from a magazine catalogue, or from the internet, the description of the clothing is not something most people pay much attention to, but it really is a big marker of how we still view the “female” body and its’ decoration from a strange and sometimes slightly presumptuous if not insulting point of view. This is less obvious in stores, but also occurs in fashion game apps for even children, when the customer asks the budding fashion designer to make her a “baby doll” dress, for example.

So we could start with the “baby doll” dress, which I think was brought back from whenever before in the nineties as part of the  “grunge” look. What is a “baby doll” dress: it is to my mind a short dress that has no natural waist. It is defined at the bust and then goes out. I assume the shortness of the length combined with their being no definition of the body makes it like a kind of “doll” look, even though most dolls do not wear such dresses. These dresses lend themselves to maternity wear for some women, usually small short women, though probably tall women wear them too. The “empire” waist and lack of tightness below the bust is what defines such dresses and makes them ideal for a summer pregnancy if you don’t mind short dresses.

Here is a dictionary explanation from http://www.yourdictionary.com:

“A usually sleeveless or short-sleeved dress having a waistline that is just below the bust and a loose, gathered skirt that ends above the knee.  Origin of babydoll dress. After the film Baby Doll(1956), in which American actress Carroll Baker wore a loose, short-sleeved dress with a high hemline.”

This is what I love about blogging about strange phenomena, especially the more cultural psychological kind. I had no idea this dress was named after a film, and though I love old films, I have never heard of this one, probably because I like older films and films from the sixties and  seventies. So what was this film about and what does “Baby Doll” mean? I’m guessing there will be some kind of call girl or prostitute like things in the movie, but I may be totally off base. Back to the internet from http://www.fandango.com/babydoll_108549/plotsummary:


Tennessee Williams‘ 27 Wagons Full of Cotton was the basis for this steamy sex seriocomedy. Karl Malden stars as the doltish owner of a Southern cotton gin. He is married to luscious teenager Carroll Baker, who steadfastly refuses to sleep with her husband until she reaches the age of 20. Her nickname is “Baby Doll”, a cognomen she does her best to live up to by lying in a crib-like bed and sucking her thumb. Enter crafty Sicilian Eli Wallach (who, like supporting actor Rip Torn, makes his film debut herein), who covets both Malden‘s wife and business.Malden‘s jealously sets fire to Wallach‘s business, compelling Wallach to try to claim Baby Doll as “compensation.” Heavily admonished for its supposed filthiness in 1956 (it was condemned by the Legion of Decency, which did more harm to the Legion than to the film), Baby Doll seems a model of decorum today–so much so that it is regularly shown on the straight-laced American Movie Classics cable service. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

So the character did wear such a “frock” in this film, and it seems that it was a style of lingerie, slips, and also may be the connection between some of these dresses looking like they were inspired by lingerie: it seems that originally this dress was actually used on babies and did make the diaper easy to change, implying I guess, that such dresses would be easy for a women to, well, have sex in it…

“The original babydoll dress was short enough that the child’s diaper could be easily changed; that style was translated for adult women in the 1956 film “Baby Doll,” when Carroll Baker’s character wore a short, A-line frock.”

A lot of these dresses do have little hints of lingerie or nods to children’s clothes in their make up; I confess I own quite a few myself and I like them; I just am not so happy about the origin of the term and the term itself. At the same time, the part of me that doesn’t care about feminism or strange allusions to women being babies or whatever, well part of me likes the term and I think it has stuck because it really captures the “naughty” subversive aspects of clothing and of this particular garment. Part of the point of this post is that fashion would be a lot less fun without such weird ways we have of describing clothes. I also love that finding out about a catalogue term for a dress can send you down an interesting rabbit hole.

Some links to such dresses:

Here is one that gives a nod to lingerie: http://www.asos.com/Darling/Darling-Embellished-Scallop-Lace-Babydoll-Dress/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=2511961&r=2

This one is more modest and hip: http://coolspotters.com/clothing/proenza-schouler-graphic-silk-babydoll-dress 

Here’s a mixed historical reference one with a nod to grunge plaid and also an interpretation of the bow tie: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ykn2w6iuIR4/UjimyzbdWqI/AAAAAAAAElU/gt1hD1dg1u4/s1600/saint-laurent-fall-2013-rtw-plaid-dress-gallery.jpg

That last one was very appealing to me, as I happen to be obsessed with plaid clothing and plaid in general.

Here’s an obvious one that is ubiquitous: “the skinny” jeans

A pair of skinny jeans is a pair of denim jeans type pants, usually low waisted, that is tight everywhere. If you’ve ever worn them you’ve had to take them off by kind of peeling them off you. I guess they could have called them “tight” jeans and that would be it. Or “ultra tight” (don’t wear them if you like very comfortable garments). I’m not sure when they came into style as they didn’t have the term when I was growing up in the era of “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins” when really tight jeans got very trendy back in the 80s.

Wonders never cease. Not only did these come from a long time ago and were applied a lot for men, there is a whole blog devoted to the topic of skinny jeans. And one important element of them is that they are made from stretchy denim, which I thought did not come around until the end of the nineties, but I’m not a good history person.:


So it also appears that there are two terms of skinny jeans, the style mentioned above that continues to evolve and be trendy for any gender, and then the “skinny jeans” which refers to a pair of jeans a woman may keep in her closet or buried somewhere, a pair of jeans that fit her maybe a few to ten or more years ago, which she keeps with the hope of fitting into them again one day. A woman who has this pair of jeans usually knows exactly where they are, even though she doesn’t often look at them unless she wants to obsess about her shape and size.

Like “baby doll”, the word “skinny” has so many implications in our culture that books have been written about them.

That’s all for now. Future posts will try to investigate such terms as ” the boyfriend sweater”, “boyfriend jeans”, the “wife-beater”, the “poodle skirt”, “peep” toe shoes, and various other ones…

July 3rd, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Some of my regular readers may recall that the Stereotype Guru dubbed Thursday to be Thing Thursday at The Communicated Stereotype. This was intended to give a momentary nod to things that were relevant to our ongoing discussion of stereotypes at TCS. Today, check out this article on gender stereotypes and masturbation.


According to Art Therapy and Related Topics, “This article concerns an almost taboo topic that we therapists need to help women who have shame around masturbation to release their shame and free themselves to love their own body and feel good about giving themselves pleasure. . . . Women and those who identify as partly or fully women, please pass this on! Unfortunately there is no mention in this article about transgendered individuals and their experiences and views in masturbation. Somebody out there: do a study on that!!!”



July 2nd, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

I view issues surrounding stereotypes to involve three particular topics that perhaps all discussion of stereotypes can be reduced to:

1) stereotypes in our mind

2) stereotypes we communicate

3) the “reality” of stereotype accuracy that exists somewhere outside of any one person’s thoughts or communication

The issue of stereotype accuracy – the last point- is of utmost concern to most people. People give stereotype accuracy a lot of weight arguing that if a stereotype is accurate then it is valid to use. Of course the problem is that it is unlikely anyone who thinks stereotypes are accurate has actually read any of the research on stereotype accuracy. This research is pretty extensive. It says, essentially, “We don’t know. There is no way to tell with certainty. Our research has not found stereotypes to be accurate.”

Worse than not having read the research, which is of course understandable, is that most people who say stereotypes are accurate base it on anecdotal evidence. Stories they have heard or experienced. People they know who act or don’t act in certain ways. For most people, this type of evidence is enough.

Not for the Stereotype Guru, but most people. I simply tend to ignore the issue of stereotype accuracy and concentrate on the first two topics stereotypes in the mind and stereotypes we communicate. The reason is because I am comfortable with the unknown and I am good at compartmentalizing. I can distinguish point three from the other two points.

In my view whether any stereotype is accurate simply doesn’t matter. Even if stereotypes are accurate for some percent of a population, they are either 100% or 0% accurate for any single person with whom I come into contact. If they are accurate for that person, then score! If they are not, I am immediately alienating myself from that person in a potentially irreversible way. Frankly, for me the risk isn’t worth it. Therefore, the accuracy of stereotypes provides little assistance for how I navigate my day to day life so I tend not to give it a second thought.

But…. for those of you who find the issue to be a deciding factor in whether stereotypes should or shouldn’t be used, this article by Gene Demby may be of some interest, “How Stereotypes Explain Everything And Nothing At All.”